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Who is Kiwisoutback?
Who is Kiwisoutback?
I was a long time writer on Squidoo, a former Giant Squid Mentor, Top 100 Giant, former Angel, all that Squidoo stuff. I have a few CafePress stores, a few Zazzle stores, I'm an artist, and I love to travel. I had received lens of the day for my road trip lens. I've sold quite a bit on Ebay over the years, so I've decided to share what I have learned through my hubs. There's also my store on CafePress selling unique kiwi clothing and merchandise. I am an avid photographer (avid, not good) and I like to cook (also avid, but not good).
This was formerly my lensography page on Squidoo, so I've tried to repurpose it into a biography of sorts. In the meantime, you can find me on my publishing website, Zujava, where you can also publish articles and earn ongoing royalties.
Or, you can read my About.me profile.
Take a Road Trip!
How did these road trip lenses come about?
Road trip lens after road trip lens...just how did I amass this knowledge in road trips?
Once you've been bitten by the travel bug, you'll always have the desire to travel at every opportunity. It was a dream of mine to drive across the country, and in 2002, my girlfriend and I (now my wife) decided to fulfill that dream. We didn't have much time, only 3 1/2 weeks off at the most before we had to be back at work. Before we changed our mind, we decided to go for it. We planned our entire trip, researched the best room rates, and mapped out how long it would take to travel from place to place.
We Started by Heading South...
The trip started in Massachusetts, heading south to Maryland. Our real first destination was Virginia Beach, then Myrtle Beach. From there, we headed to New Orleans (it was pre-Katrina), then we decided to skip Texas as best we could. A long, boring drive through the entire state of Lousiana and through the majority of Texas, we stayed one night exhausted and decided to keep moving the next for a 17 hour drive. That day was one to remember...17 hours of driving and two time zone changes! We arrived in Palm Springs, California late that night, one of our favorite places to visit.
Finally, in California
We zig-zagged across the state from San Diego to L.A., Santa Barbara to Big Sur, and finally to San Francisco, our northernmost destination on the west coast due to time constraints. Next was the beauty of Yosemite National Park and back down inland California towards the Grand Canyon.
The National Parks
The next few days we crammed in Bryce Canyon National Park, Arches National Park, Sedona (a day trip from the Grand Canyon), and Rocky Mountain National Park.
Heading back north
Before we knew it, the trip had nearly come to an end. We had to head back to the east coast, crossing Nebraska, Iowa, and stopping in Chicago for the day. Our last major stop was Niagara Falls. Everyone recommended we see the Canadian side of the Falls, so we travelled through Detroit and north of Lake Erie/Ontario to arrive on the Canadian/U.S. border near Buffalo. One last stop in Albany, NY, and we had to head home to Boston.
All in all, it was an unforgettable trip. So much so that we decided to do it again in 2005 when we were married as our honeymoon vacation, this time taking 6 long weeks to scour the country!
Me reading a road map on our biggest road trip in 2005.
Planning a Road Trip?
Just about everything you can think of. Places. What to bring. What to see. What not to bring. How to pack. The best routes. The best national parks. Money saving tips. Fuel saving tips. Where to stay. Where not to stay. Before you leave for the open road, check out my lenses for some of these tips!
Planning a U.S. Road Trip: The Southern Route, #1 in Travel in April, 2009!
It may come as a surprise, but no, I'm not from New Zealand...which you maybe a few hints were given as I've written lens after lens of U.S. road trip themed lenses. The origin of the name "Kiwisoutback" came from my eBay store that I had (my wife and I ran it together). We were looking for a mascot for the store, and decided the kiwi was as good as any. It was an animal you never heard much about in the U.S., and we thought it would be the perfect image to brand our store. Looking back, it doesn't seem the right fit.. a clothing and accessory ebay store with a kiwi, from a U.S. based store..how does it relate? Still, people liked and trusted "the kiwi."
Later on, I got to put the kiwisoutback name to good use on CafePress. I decided that's where I'd give the kiwi it's fair shake. I had already created plenty of variations of the logo, so I had those on hand. A New Zealand and kiwi themed store seemed appropriate. I had already opened the "kiwisoutback" Squidoo account to promote my eBay store, so it came natural to promote my CafePress items there, too.
200 lenses later, the name has stuck!
Pick your Favorite!
What's your favorite road trip lens?
I was lucky enough to become one of the Giant Squid 100 club members in January of 2009. Are you a Giant Squid and have 100 great lenses of your own? Find out how to become one yourself on this lens. First, you must become a Giant Squid before a Top 100 Giant Squid. Stop by the Giant Squid Community Showcase to see who has been featured there recently, and what tips you can learn from other lensmasters!
Born and raised in Massachusetts
Massachusetts is my home, with California being my home away from home, since I vacation there so much. One place I visit a often is Palm Springs.
Me on the Oregon Coast in '05.
I'm also a landscape and seascape oil painter in Massachusetts. You can see examples of my work below.
eBay: Whether you're Selling your Old Camera or Want to Start a Business...
eBay is an great place to start a business, if you're willing to work. I've sold over 3,000 items there and know the ins and outs of selling in my little world. Learn from what I've learned already by reading these eBay tutorials!
Where else can you find Kiwisoutback?
You'll find us all over the web! Here are a few places you'll find us.
I was featured at the Giant Squid Community Showcase
on March 2, 2009 in two parts. Read the interview archive below:
Giant Squid Showcase Interview
Interview from 2009
Back in the day, there were external blogs run by Bonnie and Robin of Squidoo. Those blogs have since been deleted, but the content on the interview I contributed was retrieved using Archive.org. Here, you can find that interview in full! It was a two part interview, because I tended to go overboard on this interview, but the information is still relevant today.
Here it is:
"Today we put the spotlight on one of our newest 100 club members, Kiwisoutback.
Kiwisoutback was sent a list of questions to choose from and being such a helpful squid has answered every single one of them! I also asked Kiwisoutback to share the story behind their favorite lens and one of their newest lenses. With so many great tips and so much information to share I've made this interview a two parter.
1. What is your best Squidoo lens making tip?
Kiwisoutback: Readers on the internet aren't the same as readers of newspapers - they need lots of pictures to break things up and make it interesting. The more pictures the better! You really can't have too many. Large blocks of text are just a droan to read through, so if you do have a lot of text, try using a bulleted list or break it up with photos. It's easy to do by using the flickr and polaroid modules, or your own uploaded photos.
2. What is the very first thing you do AFTER you've published a new lens? What is the second thing you do? And why?
Kiwisoutback: The first thing I do when I publish a lens is go back and proofread the entire lens. Sometimes I'll go the "critique me" section on SquidU to make sure I didn't miss anything, and to see what the general opinion of the lens is. After proofreading, I'll think of what else can be added to the lens, or how it can be expanded upon in a follow up lens. If I already have related lenses, I'll lensroll it right away to those and twitter the lens. For some lenses, I'll go out and leave the lens in blog comments as the URL when commenting. Submitting to lensroll.com also gives things a good boost.Please share the story behind one of your NEWEST lenses?
3. List 5 things you faithfully do before publishing every new lens.
Kiwisoutback: 1. I always check the module titles before publishing. It's one of those things that sets apart a good lens from a mediocre one.
2. I tweak the order of the modules so it flows smoothly.
3. When a lens is new especially, I like to use the discovery feature on the introduction module to bring in new readers.
4. Check to see if an interactive module like a duel or poll can be added to the lens to make it more exciting for your readers.
5. The Guestbook module is a must for me. Sometimes people skip right by (especially other lensmasters) if this module isn't included.
4. What do you think makes a great lens really great? Is it the design style? The amount of pictures? The writing style? Or is it something else?
Kiwisoutback: The greatest lenses usually come from personal experience and expertise. If the lens is built on a topic the lensmaster has no experience with, it's kind of transparent. Pictures or interesting html/css are a must to make your lens look interesting. A great lens will hold my attention and make me read it from start to finish without being anxious to move along. This can be the writing style, it can be the amazing pictures, it can be an unusual topic, but they all have the same thing in common: the lensmaster is very knowledgable about that particular topic.
This is the story behind one of Kiwisoutback's newest lenses.
Giant Squid Mentor Kiwisoutback
"Over a year and 126 lenses after joining Squidoo, I've decided to offer up my mentoring service to potential Giant Squids. There's some simple, easy things you can do to your lens to improve the look, flow and SEO of your lens, some of which you can find on this lens. Creating 50 lenses will give you some definite perks, but best of all, you'll become a much better lensmaster. The tips included here are some of the most valuable basic structural tips that I've learned from the lenses I've created. Any potential Giant Squid that gets stuck can visit this lens, and if you're still stuck, contact me and I'll try and help the best I can (or point you in the right direction)!"
More Giant Sized Squidoo tips from Kiwisoutback, including tips for monetizing your lenses. (continued from yesterday)
5. When starting a new lens, how much research do you do? Do you follow any type of plan? Or do you just wing it?
Kiwisoutback: When I start a new lens, I always look to see what the competition is on Google, not just on Squidoo. Doing a little keyword research can save you a lot of time and may just make you reconsider your lens topic, or get more specific. Researching on search engines will tell you whether you need to dig a little deeper into your topic, or if it's fine just the way it is.
6. What is your best advice for SEO?
Kiwisoutback: Links! If you have no links inward to your lens, your lens may never be found. Think of every possible place you can add a relevant link and try it out. If you have seveal online profiles, try adding the lens to that. Submit your lenses to various social networking sites (the more the better!) if you can. If you have a blog, create a post about the lens, or ask someone you know to blog about the lens. It's also important not to overdo it with the lens title.
7. What is your best tip for monetizing a lens?
Kiwisoutback: Try to use less banners and more actual products on lenses. Banners don't tend to a huge moneymaker.
Before creating a lens, you may want to think about a specific product and build the lens around that and how you can fit it in. Adding a random product to a tutorial style lens usually doesn't yield good results. Really get inside the reader's head and think of what their wants and needs might be. The more affiliate modules that you include on your lens, the better your chances of selling an item will be. If you're not comfortable selling products on a strictly informational lens, instead write a new lens based around products and include your personal recommendations.
And here's the story behind one of Kiwisoutback's favorites: "How to Plan a Road Trip".
My girlfriend and I had always wanted to travel the country and see what this great nation has to offer. You can only read about road trips in books, see photographs, or hear stories so many times before you get an unstoppable itch to travel. Planes weren't an option. We both really wanted to see up close and personal the famous sites like the Grand Canyon, the Pacific Coast, and ciites like New Orleans.
We didn't have 3-4 weeks of vacation time available, but we decided to go for it anyway. Being from New England, we had the perfect starting point for the trip: one of the corners of the country, so we don't have to crisscross back and forth. One by one we decided which sites we wanted to see the most and made the most direct routes from destination to destination. We squished in as many places as possible in 3 1/2 weeks, the most amount of time we could take.
It seems like it lasted just a few hours, but this incredible trip included a trip to Arches National Park, The Rocky Mountains of Colorado, the entire coast of Southern California , and the long days across the middle of the country. We had a blast and we wouldn't change it for the world.
My girlfriend and I were married in 2005, and decided what better way to honeymoon that to go on another road trip? We didn't get to see everything we wanted to see since we had only 3 1/2 weeks (you really can't see everything in this amount of time!). This time, we decided to double it and take 6 weeks! We travelled to some of the same places, but some new ones as well, like Washington State, Key West, the Outer Banks, Yellowstone, and the Redwoods of Northern California. It was the trip of a lifetime, and we discovered a definite new passion: road trips! We were never as relaxed as we were during this vacation. Some people get stressed out with all of the driving, packing and unpacking, but once you get into the rhythm of it, it's nothing. In fact, we loved it!
This trip provided me with some great tips while on the road that I knew would be valuable for other people planning their own road trips. In fact, the trips have evolved into an entire series of road trip lenses. As long as we're travelling, we'll keep making these lenses.